Pros: Image quality, sensor, articulated LCD screen, weight, ISO, RAW processing, HD video recording, battery life
Cons: Missing magnesium alloy body, smaller size body, needs battery grip
Note: The review is based on my experience with the following DSLR I've owned: Canon Rebel XTI, Canon 5D, Canon 40D, Canon 50D (short-lived) and now Canon 60D.
The idea of getting the new Canon 60D became apparent when the price of the brand new Canon 60D body dropped to $999 CAD ($200 dollars less than the initial $1200 price tag). Aiming to see what the new camera body brings to the table I decided to take it for a "test drive". If you've red my "Canon 40D vs 50D" review you'd know that I try to be careful upgrading cameras and the approach "try before you buy" has already saved me several hundred dollars. Two years after the initial 50D testing (and rejecting), there is another appealing Canon on the market - Canon 60D.
I wont bore anybody with countless specs and feature that are widely available on the net and will share my experiences with both 40D and 60D.
I'm sure many people see the dilemma "Should I get a 60D or keep the 40D body?", predominantly because 40D is known for its uncompromising image quality and performance, solid feel, fast continuous shooting, handy controls etc. On the other hand 40D was slowly getting outdated: It had yesterday's megapixel count, LCD screen, ISO range and menus and was completely missing some modern DSLR features (see down). At the same time its competitor was very impressive in the store. Namely, it's got an 18MP CMOS sensor (nearly double that of 40D), very handy articulated and clear LCD screen, a full HD 50 fps (frames per second) or 60 fps as per the menu video recording, improved Digic4 processor, much expanded ISO range, mode dial lock, improved menu, handy image manipulations and more. One thing the new 60D did not have was the sturdy "pro grade" magnesium body and yeah, the useful rear panel joystick.
A) Photo shoots
Traditionally my tests consist of shooting a table-top arrangement of items including resolution chart and several objects with glossy and fuzzy surfaces- all at ISO 100. So, this time I arranged some toys, bottles and books, added a resolution chart and started shooting. After about 10 shots with each camera I analyzed the images at 100% crop and the first impression was that the images from both cameras were excellent e.g. of the same quality. Although somehow true, the more I compared the shots, the more I realized that the pictures from 60D were more "informative" e.g. provide more details about the surfaces being shot. I wanted to verify that and followed up with handheld shots of brick walls, windows and window frames - similar to the ones that two years ago showed me that Canon 40D was superior to 50D. That test helps me get first hand info about the sensor quality, colour shading and dynamics, auto focus speed, capabilities and metering accuracy. I began reviewing the 40D images and I was seriously concerned about the fate of the new 60D: all 40D images were so-o-o perfect. Then analyzed the images from the 60D and I saw image quality at least same as that of 40D. That gave me the incentive to continue with more rounds of closeups, people portraits and low light tests and after over 200 shots I can say that both cameras produce perfect photos. While I wasn't really shocked by the 40D performance I'll admit that I was in a way surprised that 60D had overcome the weaknesses 50D had. Furthermore, 60D shots were richer and (I want to stress on that) more informative, which I attribute to the 18MP sensor. They were by a 1/4 length longer and a 1/4 width wider than the ones from 40D (to be exact 5184 x 3456 vs. 3888 x 2592).
B) Video recording
The video capabilities comparison was easy due to 40D not having that feature at all. At the same time, during the tests Canon 60D produced very clear High Definition *.MOV video files. I tested various fps and recording resolution settings and I have found that 30 fps and resolution 1920x1080 are the most useful settings for enjoyable preview on a large HDTV. From the many indoor videos I did, often in low light conditions, I can say that the light sensitivity and image quality are excellent, and the audio is unexpectedly very clear - all better than my camcorder's. If I could recommend it I'd say that it is best to use a wide diameter fast zoom lens, possibly with image stabilization. Just this camera-lens combo turns the 60D into a high end Pro level video camera that could easily cost twice as much as the 60D itself. a Nevertheless, one "issue" was also apparent - the lack of auto focus in video mode. Personally I've got the hang of the manual focusing in just few tries and that was much less of a problem to me. Another consideration is the video file size: I've figured out that a 30s movie at the above settings takes about 200Mb card space and the rate of HD video recording is ~7Mb/s. That emphasizes on the need of a fast SDHC (High capacity), or even better SDXC (eXtended Capacity) SD memory cards. I tested the video capabilities with SDHC memory cards rated at 15Mb/s and 30Mb/s - class (10) and the video recording was a breeze. However I intended recording videos on standard speed SDHC cards the buffer started filling up and the recording was cut. I also tried the manual microphone level adjustment option but found that the automatic setting serves my needs better e.g. required no fiddling with the setting. When previewed via HDMI connection the video and audio clarity were more than adequate. The last test I did was taking pictures during HD video recording. I got to say that although not pleasant it is possible, and only if the memory card is fast.
By my standards the 10MP Canon 40D has got a superior construction and ergonomics, and has better weather sealing. While the new 18MP DSLR misses the magnesium alloy body and fast continues shooting it has got many advantages: First of all I noticed that it is lighter and focuses really fast. Then it was the amazing articulated LCD screen, the great menu and the convenient custom menu. And then came the longer battery life, mode dial lock, greatly expanded ISO range, useful noise suppression, in-camera RAW processing, electronic leveling feature and so on and so forth.
Upon completion of my tests it became clear that A) Canon 40D is still and will probably always be a very worthy camera, producing outstanding images and B) the game has changed and 60D has got features unavailable just 2 years ago. Based on my tests, feature comparison and shooting performance I can say that Canon 60D has surpassed 40D at every meaningful level and I can definitely recommend it to everybody planning to do serious picture and video shooting.